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Outpost Harry

By Joe Ball

Peace talks between the U. N. Forces and the Communist armies had been moving agonizingly slow for over two years in early June 1953. Both sides were attempting to secure their positions pending the Armistice that most assuredly was near.

Outpost Harry was located in what is referred to as the “Iron Triangle,” 60 miles north of Seoul on a finger hill about 425 yards north of the U.N. main line of resistance.

The outpost consisted of trenches, fighting bunkers, a C.P., and an F.O. bunker. Supply and medical units were set up at the rear of the site. Outpost Harry was a relatively small outpost that could accommodate only one reinforced rifle company. The road to Seoul and the flank of the entire 8thArmy could be in jeopardy if the strategic location of Outpost Harry was lost to the C.C.F.

The defense of Outpost Harry was assigned to the 15th Regiment of the battle tested 3rd Infantry Division. Other units soon joined the fight with the 10th engineer battalion improving fortifications during the daylight hours in preparation for the fighting that would continue every night from June 10th until the exhausted men of the 15th were relieved eight days later. Because of the terrain and losses, infantry companies were rotated each night.

Losses on the U.N. side were heavy. The 3rd medical battalion treated 917 casualties, completed 198 surgeries, and lost nearly one-half of their ambulances to enemy artillery fire.

The 5th R.C.T. and the Greek battalion joined the fight, participating in actions from June 11th through June 18th. U.S. losses are reported as 174 K.I.A. and 437 W.I.A. The 3rd medical battalion treated injured Soldiers of all participating units.

It is reported that the C.C.F. casualties numbered over 4,200 over the eight-day period.

The battle for Outpost Harry was, in many ways, a tribute to the fighting qualities of the United States Army. Days were spent on reinforcing defensive positions knowing “they” were “coming” every night. Much of the fighting was at close quarters using rifles, pistols, knives, and fists as the trenches and bunkers were overrun by the overwhelming force of numbers. It has been reported that there were at least two C.C.F. regiments committed to the attack on Outpost Harry.

The use of artillery and mortars were an important factor. Artillery and mortar concentrations had been marked days earlier. Forward observers could call in fire very quickly. 90,000 rounds were fired in support of the American infantry. Enemy fire was estimated at 20,000 rounds.

The officers and enlisted men of the 15th Regiment were told how important this outpost was. The orders were to “hold at all costs.” They held. For a complete report, go to www.ophsa.org.

To recognize the epic struggle, the Outpost Harry Fitness Center was dedicated on April 28, 2001. The facility is located at Fort Benning, Georgia. The dedication was presided over by Col. Anthony Cucolo. Some years later Cucolo, now a Major General, led the Division into battle in Iraq.

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